The visit to the camp


The students set out for the shelter camp as soon as all the collected goods were loaded onto a truck. They decided to follow the truck on foot. On reaching the camp, they were received received by Mr. Sartaj Junejo, the superintendent of the camp. He shook hands with Sir Razzaq and then with all the boys and took them in. The children were shocked to see the squalor inside. Families sat huddled together. Their disheveled appearances told tales of woe and misery. But what puzzled the children was that even though there were stacks and stacks of biscuits, tins of ghee, sacks of flour and lentils and cases of mineral water everyone looked very unhappy. 

On being asked Mr. Junejo answered with a sigh of resignation, 'Razzaq Sahib, they want to be served cooked food. Plus they ask for money to spend in nearby markets.'

A burly man with a thick moustache stepped forward and introduced himself, 'My name is Sanwal, Saeen. We are poor and have lost all our belongings and livestock in the floods. Our only possessions are the clothes on our backs.'

'Their villages are no longer inundated with water, yet they don't want to return home,' added Mr. Junejo. 'Why should we? So that we are denied the aid that the government has promised the flood affected people?' replied Sanwal.

Finally, Sir Razzaq spoke up. He addressed all the men and women who had now gathered around them. 'Tell me something. Weren't you all making an honest living before the floods?'

'Yes!' they all chorused.

'They Holy Prophet (PBUH) has said that the hand that gives is better than the hand that receives,' explained Sir Razzaq 'Elect a wise leader who will encourage you to stand on your own feet. Pool in all the resources available and start afresh. Take pride in your work and have faith in your abilities. Then see how satisfying it is to be able to walk with your heads held high. The women should organize a community kitchen where they can take turns preparing the three meals of the day. The men should go out and find work, while the  elderly canlook after the children. Teams should be formed to keep the place clean. Those of you who are educated should teach so that the children's time is not wasted.'

A hush fell upon the crowd . Sanwal knew better than to argue. He could sense that there was a new spirit in the people.

A small hand went up in the air. 'Yes, Mustafa,' smiled Sir Razzaq 'Sir, my mother read the story in the newspaper about a family where the men all work as bus conductors or labourers while the women have taken up sewing. The head of their family says that thy do not need the aid any more as they are all able-bodied. They will go back to their village as soon as it is safe to do so.'

Soft murmurings arose from the crowd as they nodded their heads in agreement.

Sir Razzaq smiled seeing the expectant faces of the crowd and said softly, 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going!'


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